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The Grateful Dead perform at the Oakland Coliseum in December 1992. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group/TNS)

How Reagan Helped the Dead

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The rise of the Grateful Dead from cult band to rock ’n’ roll juggernaut didn’t take hold until some 20 years after the group was born in Palo Alto, Calf., in the 1960s. Who led the charge? Besides Jerry Garcia and his bandmates, there was another charismatic California icon who deserves a share of the credit. Ronald Reagan. Yes, that …

The Mekons Remain a Beacon of Punk Persistence and Creativity

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Born in art school at the University of Leeds in 1977, the Mekons long ago conceded that fame and fortune were outside their grasp, and it kind of shows. The band’s fan site, while kept current, is run by a guy named Nobby and looks like it was coded in 1996. Unlike university …

Musicians Cooperative Throws a Bash

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A new musicians cooperative is kicking off the summer season with seven hours of music and food Sunday at the Old Farmers Exchange in Windsor. The BYOB event, which is being organized by Caballbreakeradio, features nine bands and solo artists on two stages, and the $20 ticket includes a four-course meal. Slated to …

Attention Music Shoppers: Young Musicians Release Recordings and Hope for the Best

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The music business has long been a challenge. But the advent of the Internet has made it even more confusing. While it’s easier for a musician to get his work in front of listeners, it’s a crowded field. …

Why Lady Gaga Needs ‘American Horror Story’

Thursday, February 26, 2015

After Lady Gaga’s majestic Sound of Music medley at the Oscars on Sunday, some speculated she may be headed to Broadway. Wrong genre! Turns out the pop star is aiming to conquer the world of basic-cable television. FX …

Country King Garth Brooks Returns

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Pittsburgh — There’s always a chance that Led Zeppelin will go back in the studio or Jim Morrison will return out of the blue, but we can probably go ahead and declare the return of Garth Brooks “the …

‘Laugh-In’ Announcer Gary Owens Dies at 80

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Los Angeles — Gary Owens, the droll, mellifluous-voiced announcer on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In and a familiar part of radio, TV and movies for more than six decades, has died. He was 80. The veteran voiceover star died …

Sam Smith Wins Song, Record of the Year

Monday, February 9, 2015

A partial list of winners from the 57th Grammy Awards: ∎ Album of the year: Morning Phase, Beck. ∎ Song of the year: Stay With Me, Sam Smith. ∎ Record of the year: Stay With Me, Sam Smith. ∎ New artist: Sam …

Holy Grail or Just a Really Cool Guitar?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Les Paul was a musician, inventor and obsessive tinkerer. His signature six-string became the instrument of choice for a Mount Rushmore of guitar heroes: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. But there is something else Paul was …

Suge Knight Hasn’t Been Able to Shake Gangsta Rap’s Violent Origins

Thursday, February 5, 2015

In the 2½ decades since Marion “Suge” Knight founded his volatile label Death Row Records, its artists and crew have moved beyond gangsta rap and onto more peaceful projects. Andre “Dr. Dre” Young co-founded Beats Electronics, the headphone …

With ‘Empire,’ Diversity Becomes the Watchword on TV

Monday, February 2, 2015

The 2014-15 TV season was already shaping up to be a watershed year for diversity on the major networks, thanks to the success of ABC’s black-ish and How to Get Away With Murder. The most-watched new comedy and …

Picture These Bands in Their Prime

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A shirtless Mick Jagger, relaxing poolside in Clearwater, Fla., in 1965, intently studies the back cover of Bob Dylan’s then-new Bringing It All Back Home album, still in the shrink wrap. John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr gaze with delight as George Harrison tosses a yellow balloon …

Old Meets New in Planned Grammy Duets

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Young will meet old — again — at this year’s Grammy Awards. In keeping with longstanding tradition, the Recording Academy has arranged several May-December duets for the Feb. 8 ceremony, organizers announced Wednesday, including planned performances by Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, Hozier and Annie Lennox, and Jessie …